It’s been a tough year for aspiring nurses. Instead of learning onsite at a local hospital or waiting tables to earn money for their degree, young professionals have largely been stuck at home. Many next generation nurses can no longer work a side job to pay their bills until they become a licensed provider, which makes paying for school all the more difficult. That’s why several young people are turning to online pornography as a way of staying afloat until they can get back to work at the hospital.
The website OnlyFans lets people upload risqué photos or videos of themselves online. Users can then access their media for a certain monthly fee. For many young people, the extra income has been a lifeline during the pandemic.
Find out how this new side gig is shaping the next generation of providers.
Gig Work Goes Online
For many young women looking to be nurses, doing online pornography was never part of the plan. And then the pandemic happened.
According to a survey in March 2020, 52% of worldwide workers in the gig economy lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic. On top of this, another 26% had their hours decreased. Unable to make ends meet, the crisis has put many college students and aspiring providers in a difficult position.
For Clara, a first-generation American and the daughter of immigrants from Peru, OnlyFans has been a lifeline during the crisis. She goes to school in Florida and was working at a hospital as a patient care assistant until at least a dozen nurses got infected with COVID-19. The facility quickly removed all nonessential personnel from the building, which left Clara without a job or a way to pay her bills.
At the time, she remembers people encouraging her to take out loans, but she decided not to after hearing horror stories from older nurses that were still paying off their student debt. She ultimately decided to take matters into her own hands and started using OnlyFans.
Describing her decision to join the platform, she said, “At the end of the day, nobody is paying my rent for me, nobody’s gonna pay my car insurance, my phone bill, my cat food. Nothing. So, I have to do it. And it’s been so helpful.”
Nikki, another aspiring nurse that wishes to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, was in a similar position earlier in the year. She decided to enroll in an accelerated nursing program in May and the workload has been intense, to say the least.
“I’m in an accelerated program on top of everything so I’m at a fast pace. It’s just so crazy to balance that and work. It’s like four years in one… They just throw everything at you all at once. We were doing 4 chapters every class. We had two exams a week, it was just so much,” Nikki says.
But that’s why OnlyFans was such a godsend. Instead of driving for Uber, she can stay home, make money, and study for school at the same time.
One nurse reportedly made around $50,000 a month.
Aspiring Nurse Turns Entrepreneur
OnlyFans gives many young people the time and freedom to accomplish their career goals.
Mia, another aspiring provider, says she’s using the platform to make extra money for her family as she continues pursuing her nursing degree.
“I used to care for my grandad back in 2011. When he passed away, my boyfriend at the time was saying, ‘You know you could go to school for this type of stuff.’ I [was] basically trying to fill that void because I had spent almost two years every day taking care of him because he lived next door to me.”
She ultimately decided to put that experience towards becoming a nurse. But the pandemic complicated her plans. Now, online “sex work” is helping her reach her goals. She says she only has to work two hours a day online, which gives her more time to focus on her studies.
However, for Mia, OnlyFans isn’t just about paying her way through school. She says she plans to stick with the platform for the long-haul. “I’m gonna continue doing it [once I get my Licensed Practical Nurse]. If I promote myself every day for a year, it has to get somewhere, it has to take off at some point. I want to see the earning potential behind it.”
Leading a Double Life
Using OnlyFans as a nursing student can be difficult. Many young women say they worry the platform could jeopardize their careers down the line.
Nikki recalls thinking, “Going into nursing and OnlyFans is not really a great mix. You can get in trouble for that. I’m very wary about it. I don’t want to ever lose my license if I go to school and pay all this money.”
Clara says being an online “sex worker” comes with a stigma that can be hard to overcome. “I feel isolated from a lot of the students. I feel that if they were to find out — a lot of them do know, and they’re OK with it — but I feel like if other people know, they’re going to get a bad idea of me.”
However, Clara isn’t ashamed of her new side gig. “Just because I’m someone who’s basically a cam girl doesn’t mean that I deserve less than anybody else. People have to stop being so judgmental. We’re in hard times right now. The way people choose to support themselves is their own business,” she said.
At the end of the day, “If it’s not hurting you, then why is it such a big deal?”